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November 30, 2011

Tiger Woods


THE MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods into the interview room here at the Chevron World Challenge, the four‑time winner of this event and our tournament host.  Tiger, thanks for joining us.  First of all, just give us some comments on how much this tournament means to you and to your foundation.
TIGER WOODS:  Well, this tournament's been fantastic over the years.  This is our 13th here, so I'm very very excited as to how it's progressed over the years now with full ranking points this tournament's gone up in stature, got another great field here, got a bunch of the guys that were down in Australia playing the Presidents Cup.  I just saw Gary and Kuch just won the World Cup and they're here, coming in from China, so that's very exciting, and just overall we got the golf course is in perfect shape again.
Only interesting day is going to be tomorrow with the wind coming in, but other than that the forecast is fantastic, and you know, the presales have been fantastic, so I think this is going to be just another great event.
THE MODERATOR:  In terms of the foundation I think even next week you're opening up another satellite learning center.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, we're opening up another one where I live down there in Florida, so we're excited about the expansion, how we're going now.  We started in D.C., then to Philly and now into Florida, so I'm very excited about that and we're just progress and growing.
THE MODERATOR:  Okay.  Let's take some questions.

Q.  What was your inspiration to start your foundation, and how have you changed after having gotten involved yourself?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, it first started off as a golf foundation.  You know, we did clinics around the country.  I kind of likened it to what my dad and I talked about, like a circus basically.  You'd come in, get everyone excited about junior golf or the potential of just playing golf in general, would have workshops as well about other opportunities within golf without having to play, but just get them excited about the game of golf.  And then we'd leave.
You'd obviously leave behind money involved or raise a bunch of money and leave that in the city where we just were, but it was just like a traveling circus.  There was nothing left behind, nothing tangible, I thought.
So then down the road I decided to change the direction of the foundation.  I gave the directive to my dad to change it, and we went in the direction of education, because I wanted to mirror how I grew up.  If I didn't have my homework done, I couldn't go play and practice, so school always came first.  That's one of the reasons I was lucky enough, fortunate enough to go to Stanford because of it, so from then on we focused on education, and golf was merely a vehicle if they wanted to play, we'd obviously offer it, but it was education based, and it's one of the reasons why we've created all these learning centers and these different types of learning centers around the country and why we've focused on education is because that's what I'm most comfortable with because that's how I was raised.

Q.  Tiger, can you just talk about the life lessons that you teach the young people at your foundation, and also the confidence that you got in sinking that putt (indiscernible)?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, Jim, as far as what we try and teach them is that it's very simple.  You get out of it what you put into it, and that's what my father used to always tell me all the time.  If you work hard, you're going to get results, but if you don't work hard, you're not going to get any results, but more importantly, you don't deserve any because you didn't work for it.  And that's kind of the ‑‑ what we try and demonstrate and show all the kids, but also then again, you also need to provide them an opportunity to have that option, provide an environment for them to reach and prosper and grow because a lot of these kids that the neighborhoods we go into, they're first‑generation college students, and you know, it's hard to imagine, but it is what it is.  And they've never been encouraged.  They've been discouraged all their lives, so we're trying to change that attitude and foster a different type of environment, and one where they feel safe, and make them feel it's exciting to learn and grow, and from then it's their responsibility.
And it's amazing when that happens, you give the kids that type of environment and also give them the responsibility of learning and taking care of their class and their school, these kids have prospered.  They've gone so to some amazing universities just by being part of our foundation, got a kid at Harvard, and a bunch here at UCLA, Cal, you name it.  It's pretty amazing to see how they've gone on.
Going to the Presidents Cup, I didn't have to make the putt.  It was conceded.  So I hit a good bunker shot there, Jimmy, but no, it was great to be a part of the team, and we played really well as a team down there.  We really did.  A lot of the guys hit a lot of good shots.  I think we all managed the golf course very well.  That's one of the things we talked about earlier in the week about the strategy of how to play that type of golf course, and especially under that kind of wind.  You don't have to make a bunch of birdies to win holes, just keep yourself in it, but also placing the ball correctly.
So I think we did a very good job of that, and you know, I think that we got off to a quick start and put the Internationals down early and just kept it on them from there.

Q.  Tiger, you've made a change of your shoes in the last few months.  You were always a metal spikes guy, and now I believe the new shoes don't have metal spikes.  How's that gone?  Do you ever see yourself going back?  What do you miss about kind of being one of the last holdouts on spikes?
TIGER WOODS:  You know, that's a great question because once we ‑‑ because I've always trained in the new frees, so the foot's more mobile and it's closer to the ground, more ground contact.  That's one of the reasons why I created the shoe the way I did is to put my foot closer to the ground.  So I do have more ground contact, and when that happened, I didn't need the metal spikes anymore.
When my foot sat up a little higher, as I rotated, I needed to have that type of traction, but now my foot's actually doing the traction.  I can feel my toes kind of grabbing the ground as I'm coming from the golf ball, which I couldn't do from a higher platform.  So with that, that's one of the reasons why I see so many athletes now do barefoot training is because of that to strengthen the foot and have more ground contact, and this is just an extension of that.

Q.  Tiger, talk about your swing right now.  If you can simplify it, is it a matter of just trusting your swing, almost like from the duffer to your level, where you're at with learning?  And another thing, I saw a story today that this old hockey helmet that supposedly ‑‑ that you signed years ago, which was in the Hockey Hall of Fame, is going for $5,000 on ebay.  What do you remember about that goalie helmet, because it looks incredible.  It has your likeness on it, you signed it.  Do you remember that?
TIGER WOODS:  No.  (Laughs).

Q.  It's not worth 5,000 to you, then, eh?
TIGER WOODS:  I've signed a few things over my career.

Q.  It was a one‑time art piece.  It was in the Hall of Fame.
TIGER WOODS:  Sounds good.

Q.  Okay.  Talk about your swing.
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I'm swinging the club well enough that you don't need to walk out there with hockey helmets on.  You like that connection.  That was good, wasn't it?
No, as far as the swing, down in Aus, it was good.  Playing in the Frys I needed to see after being healthy and hadn't played in a tournament healthy yet, see how that felt.  And I found out I had a few weaknesses I needed to address.  Sean and I worked on it tirelessly.  And then when I went to Aus, I got better every day.  And that part was fun.
Normally anybody who makes swing changes or any player, you get exposed in the wind, when the wind's hauling, miss‑hit shots, or it's going to show up.  I felt very comfortable in that wind, which was great, because you know, full circle, last year at Dubai, I felt I should have won the golf tournament, you know, a right‑to‑left wind cost me eight shots on certain holes, and I didn't have the ability to maneuver the ball left to right at the time.  So the wind exposed me there, which was good.
Here, playing in Aus for two weeks, it was fantastic.  I hit all shapes, all trajectories, and if you look at the rounds, I hit most of my shots pin high, and you know, that's an indication if the wind's blowing that hard, that I'm really controlling my trajectory at all.

Q.  (Inaudible).
TIGER WOODS:  Absolutely.

Q.  A three‑part question.
TIGER WOODS:  Start with one.

Q.  Okay.  Did you receive the letter from President Clinton?  How hard is it to say no to President Clinton when he's asking you to play in that tournament?  And what are the factors that are affecting your winter schedule?  Will you play Pebble, for example?
TIGER WOODS:  First of all, I have no idea what the first two are.  I have no idea what you're talking about.

Q.  They said President Clinton sent personal letters asking them to play in the Humana Challenge.
TIGER WOODS:  News to me.  I don't know.  Sorry.  As far as scheduling going forward, I'm going to take a look at it the next couple weeks, because obviously I have family things I need to sort out for next week as well, for next year as well, so that will kind of go into my scheduling for next year, so I'm going to sit down and kind of figure that out.

Q.  Tiger, last year after a really good singles at the Ryder Cup, you played very well here, then there was the layoff, and you kind of struggled to get back to where you were, and you built up, but it was a bit rusty in the beginning.  What did you learn from that, and then like now we're coming up on another Christmas holiday break.  How will you deal with it differently?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I wasn't as knowledgeable about what I was working on then as I am now.  And yeah, I played well in the singles, and had a nice stretch there, but you know, for the other part of the Ryder Cup, it was okay because I played well, and played really well in spurts.  I didn't put anything consecutively together.
You know, that's what was so exciting about Aus is that excluding one day where I hit, what, three bad tee shots and didn't make any putts, I played really good, and that's exciting.
So now, what I've worked on with Sean is now integrated.  I know when I hit a bad shot.  I know exactly what it is, so I can rectify for the very next shot.  Back then I was still learning what he's trying to teach me.  And that was the frustrating thing because I could go a spell there where I'd play poorly for a couple holes and not know what the fix was.  And now it's immediately.  One shot, he calls me up, and I hit a bad shot there, what was it, I explain it to him, boom, boom.  So it's exactly what it was.

Q.  Like Torrey, is that what happened (inaudible).
TIGER WOODS:  Not right away.  Not right away.  Because I hadn't had enough time to really fully integrate it yet.  You know, I just needed more time, and you know, people think that these changes happen overnight and they're very easy.  They're not.  They take lots of time.
As I said, my first one took over two years where I struggled a lot for a couple years, and the other one was almost two years.  So it takes some time, but once it kicks in, you understand the system, then it's full go.

Q.  Tiger, obviously this year you decided to with your schedule to skip Torrey.  I wonder how difficult that decision was considering how well you played there, the affection you have for the golf course and just what went into that.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, I mean I loved playing there as a junior golfer, played there in the Junior World.  I played there countless PGA events as well as the one major.  I love playing there, but I also like playing in the desert as well.  And why not?  I had never been to Abu Dhabi, and this is the first time, so decided to mix it up a little bit.

Q.  Tiger, you mentioned that you saw significant progress in your swing in Australia.  How would you assess the current state of your mental game?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, mentally that's never been a question for me about how to play the game.  Maneuvering myself around the golf course, I know how to do that.  I know where I want the ball to go.  I know where I want to miss it.  I just couldn't do it.  So people said, boy, you're really struggling mentally out there.  Yeah, but it's physical, too, because I know what to do, I know what shot to hit.  I just can't pull it off.
But as far as that part, that's never been a question for me.

Q.  Tiger, a couple times throughout this fall you've talked about needing to bring it from the range to the course to the tournament play, and now that you've been doing it a little bit here recently in tournaments, when you get into your schedule next year, do you feel the need to play more tournaments?  Is playing more between the ropes in live events going to help you any or does that not matter?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, if you look at my schedule over the years, I've never really played a lot.  I like to practice and then go out and play.  What people don't realize is that I wasn't able to ‑‑ this year I wasn't able to play at home.  You know, people don't realize at home how much golf I play when I'm getting ready for an event, how many holes I play.  I play a lot, and I wasn't able to do any of that, because I was under a strict ball count for the day.  So that ‑‑ once that was released and I was able to go is when I started making some serious strides, you know, working with Sean, because then I could get the reps in.
And then coming out here I've always felt in my career more comfortable when I was able to practice a lot, and I'm not one of those guys who can play a bunch of weeks in a row.  I'd much rather just practice a lot, come out, play and be fully invested in that one event and then go back and kind of tinker around what did I do right, what did I do wrong, let's learn from it and go again, build up, go play, come back down, build up, come back down, build up.  That's the way I've done it.  I've been I think somewhat successful over my career doing it that way and I don't see any reason to change that.

Q.  Tiger, can you talk about your philosophy on your schedule this year?  We've already talked about Torrey and skipping that one this year.  Can you talk about the philosophy as far as are you going to be playing different tournaments, more tournaments?  Do you feel the need to play in ones that you haven't played in before maybe, how many of those might you do, and then can you talk about your thoughts on Riviera?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I got what Tim wanted us to do is to play different events each year, and I did that this year, and I see no reason why I'm not going to not do that next year.  That's a double negative, isn't it?
How about this, I will play a new event next year.  So that's something that I think is good for the TOUR to do that.  So I'm going to do that for sure.

Q.  (Inaudible).
TIGER WOODS:  As I said earlier to Karen is that we'll take a look at everything the next couple weeks, and I gotta figure out a lot of different things as far as my kids and everything.

Q.  Sorry, I forgot, when were you released from a ball count?  Before Frys, after Frys?  Do you remember?
TIGER WOODS:  It was probably two weeks after the PGA.

Q.  And secondly, if it took you two years to get the swing sorted out, the first time around, second time around, and this time you haven't been able to practice, or you haven't been healthy.  What does that say about where you are, and did you pick it up quicker than the other two, or is there a sense that there's still more to go even though people are seemingly rushing to say it's back?
TIGER WOODS:  There's always more to go.  That's the beauty of golf, but as far as picking it up, yeah, I've picked it up very quickly because Sean's got me into a position that I recognize.  I've been here before as I've said, and he wanted me to swing like I used to when I was a kid.  And that's one of the reasons why I'm able to do some of these things within Sean's system, why I'm picking up so quickly.

Q.  (Inaudible).
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah.  There's a lot of different numbers, on a lot of different planes and attack angles and D planes and all that stuff.

Q.  (Inaudible)?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah.  I know it.  If you would have asked me a question about that last year at this time, I wouldn't have known, not all of it.  But now understanding all those numbers and what they relate to in ball flight, traj, spin, that's what's fun to understand that.  And then make the changes within it while working with the Track Man as well.

Q.  Actually, I'm going to follow up a little bit on that one.  Did you not know towards two and a half years ago you were maybe five degrees down with your driver on Track Man?  Or you just knew you were hitting it down, but you didn't know it was that far down?
TIGER WOODS:  It all depends on what shot I was hitting at the time.  If it's got me five degrees, I'm sure that was based on some kind of low cut, but my draw was my attack angle was plus two.  So that's a huge shift.  Seven degrees is a ton.
So we're trying to tighten all that up, but understanding those numbers, it is relevant because it's pure numbers.  There's no getting around it.  They're universal.  They're law.
So understanding those numbers and what they relate to, ball flight and what it can do and what it doesn't do, that's just fun to do.  I mean the guys who work for Sean all utilize it and understand it, the ins and outs of it, and it's kind of neat to talk numbers like that because most people probably don't really get it.

Q.  And just the actual question I was going to ask, years ago you said that when your ball striking is good, you get confidence out of that.  Not so much you're hitting it sideways, you're making putts, that's good, but when your ball striking is good, that's where you really feel confident.  Is that still the case?

Q.  Do you feel like you're getting to that point back again?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah.  If you're hitting the ball well, there's very little stress, because you're missing all those golf shots in the right spot.  You're not going to hit all perfect golf shots for 18 holes, but as long as you miss in the right spots it's easy to get up and down because all the misses are in the correct spots.  So it's all interrelated.
So yeah, how do you maximize and get the most out of your rounds, yeah, you gotta make putts, but also give yourself the opportunities to make putts, but then when you do miss a green so you have the ball in the correct spot so it's an easy chip, so it's an easy up and down, so you can keep momentum going.  But that's all interrelated.  So yeah, if you look at my rounds throughout my career, I maximize a lot of those rounds where I turned 73s into 69s because I was hitting the ball well, and I missed all the balls in the correct spots, and to me that's key, especially in the bigger events, because one shot's huge.

Q.  Tiger, how are your expectations different this week than they were at Frys, than they were in Sydney?  And I don't mean that as a results‑based question.  Just playing the game, how are they different?
TIGER WOODS:  It's the same.  Just place the ball in correct spots and get the W.

Q.  I'm sure you can sense the progress you've made.
TIGER WOODS:  Absolutely I can sense it.  Absolutely.  I've made tremendous strides.  As I said, in the wind, you get exposed, and if you saw what I did in Australia, I hit the ball pretty good.

Q.  Tiger, recently you told me that last year when you came to this event you could only hit the ball one way and still were able to take it to a playoff to nearly win.  With a year now under your belt and all the talk we've had about how more comfortable you are, what is your expectation level for this week in terms of going out there and winning?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, last year I was very limited in what I could do, and like I told Sean last year, I just gotta rely on my putter, and hopefully some of the pins set up and the wind sets up correctly for me because I only had that one shot at the time.  But now, I feel very comfortable maneuvering the ball both ways and changing my trajs as well, so I'm excited about this week.  It'll be interesting tomorrow.
I'm excited about playing that wind tomorrow.  Only difference here that it swirls a lot, which is different than what we play in Aus.  It's coming our one direction, period.  Here in these canyons it can do anything.  So it'll be ‑‑ if the wind is projected the way it's supposed to be projected and it stays 30 to 40, it'll be tough tomorrow.

Q.  Given what you've been through with the injuries, the swing change in the past year, how was it getting into contention in Sydney?  Did it feel different?  Was it like the old days being in contention?
TIGER WOODS:  That's a great question.  Someone asked me that yesterday, and I told him I felt nothing.  And he says, good, because you're not supposed to.  You're supposed to be normal.  You're supposed to be there.  I said, yeah, I know.
So I felt exactly the way I did on Saturday, I felt the same way as I did on Friday and Thursday.  And on Sunday I felt the same way I did the first three days, and that's a good sign.  I feel very comfortable being up there.

Q.  And Tiger, you've said you don't enter a tournament unless you believe you can win.  I just sort of sense from what you've said that looking at 2012 you have a higher sense of what might happen more than the last couple of years.  Is that a fair assessment?
TIGER WOODS:  Absolutely, Art.  I feel very excited about next year.  I'm excited about the progress I've made, and really looking forward to it.  It's going to be fun to get out there and play a full schedule, which I haven't done for quite some time, and I'll get my number of events in and prepare and practice and play my normal pace getting ready for the major championships, and then trying to peak four times a year, which I haven't had the opportunity to do the last couple years consistently.
THE MODERATOR:  Tiger, thanks for your time.  Appreciate it.
TIGER WOODS:  Thank you.

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